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The Guide

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3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  4,093 ratings  ·  178 reviews
R.K. Narayan (1906-2001) is unusual among Indian authors writing in English in that he has stayed contentedly in his home country, venturing abroad only rarely. He rarely addresses political issues or tries to explore the cutting edge of fiction. He is a traditional teller of tales, a creator of realist fiction which is often gentle, humorous, and warm rather than hard-hit...more
Paperback, 196 pages
Published August 29th 2006 by Penguin Classics (first published 1958)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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K.D. Absolutely
Jul 22, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to K.D. by: 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006-2010)
Shelves: india, classics, 1001-core
Those of you who think that Indian novels are always about sadness and despair of poor people, must think again. This book, The Guide by R. K. Narayan is funny. Unlike let's say, The God of Small Things or The Inheritance of Loss, this book will not make you squirt some tears from your eyes. Rather, when you close the book, you'll be happy yet mesmerized by its beauty.

It's beauty is not really in the narration or innovative storytelling. The novel's beauty is its ability to show you the traditi...more
Petra Xtra Crunchy
First book of 2014.

Narayan's The Guide is a good story about a man who is a tourist guide who does his absolute best to please his customers honestly or dishonestly, as is the nature of tourist guides everywhere. But he is brought low by romance and becomes a bit of a rogue. I don't want to spoil the story by writing out the plot but eventually, from the absolute depths a man can sink to, he rises on the back of being thought a holy man. His innate moral sense overrides his desire for an easier...more
Stephen
My friend Jim Earl recently wrote an excellent article entitled "How to Read the Indian Novel." This article was the culmination of reading sixty Indian novels over a fairly short period of time. His favorite Indian novelist of the many he read is R.K. Narayan. So I picked up Narayan's "The Guide" and read it with some words from Jim ringing in my ears: "Narayan always seems simple and easy to read, but he leaves one with much to ponder." Yes indeed. Raju, the central character in this novel, is...more
PSmith
May 13, 2011 PSmith rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of Indian fiction
it has truly been described as a 'pensive comedy' - this is the story of Raju, an ordinary middle class man in South India, who vicariously rose to the height of fame, had a plunging fall, then again rose up like the phoenix to become a swamiji, a demi-god. More than Raju, I sympathize with Rosy, the dreamy eyed girl, whose only passion was dance, for which she had to suffer. Her husband left her, she took up with Raju, but then Raju soon became somewhat like a mercenary feeding upon her income....more
Katie
This is the first of Narayan's novels that I've read, and I was bothered by it in the same way I'm always bothered by stories that sacrifice psychological verisimilitude for the sake of plot. Raju, the main character, begins the book as an unethical, opportunistic, but essentially likable fellow; as the story goes on he transforms first into a money-grubbing, misogynistic, self-serving asshole, and then into some semblance of a holy man. I don't have a problem with characters undergoing changes,...more
umberto
This rural-oriented novel set in his fictional town of Malgudi in India would, I think, would nearly equally delight his readers who have read his "Swami and Friends" (1935), "The Bachelor of Arts" (1937) or "The English Teacher" (1945) and they may keep wondering why the protagonist, Raju, has chosen such a way of life after his release from prison. As the story goes on, we can find it enjoyable and agree with its recommendation as "the greatest of his comedies of self-deception" (back cover) O...more
Paul
The writing is quite spare and there is little description of the backdrop of the novel, apart from what is necessary.
The Guide is about Raju, who tells his story in the present and past. He has been in prison and has taken refuge in an empty temple by a river. The locals begin to believe he is a holy man. Interspersed is the story of Raju's past, his childhood, his time as a tourist guide. Then his affair with a married woman and its consequences. Raju is a rogue who is often self serving, but...more
Saimah
'The Guide' is the story of transformation of the protagonist, Raju from a simple tour guide to a great spiritual guide. Starting as a tourist guide in the small village of Malgudi, Raju more often known as Railway Raju, leads a very simple life with his widowed mother. However the entrance of Rosie and her husband, Marco, brings about a turmoil in all of their lives. Rosie aspires to be a famous dancer while Marco is focussed towards his career and totally apathetic towards Rosie and her dancin...more
Aditya
"It's easy to read, but difficult to understand" says Michael Gorra in his foreword. And i agree with him a hundred percent. There are so many interpretations possible from this one. Some may like Raju, some may not. Some may like Rosie, some may not. Some may like Marco, some may not. My review:
It's a self-deprecatory repentant narrative by Raju as told to Velan after he's released from prison (earlier convicted for forgery). Am trying to forget the first person narrative by Raju and look at th...more
Anbu
Though I haven’t seen the movie version of it, I did see some scenes from it. So when the book started the image of Dev Anand was in mind when I try to picture Raju. But eventually Dev Anand faded and a typical dhoti clad Tamil guy replaced him. I guess that is the power of Narayan’s writing. He made us picture what he wants to even if we have some predetermined images about it.

Narayan keeps all the leading characters with the shades of grey, except for the innocent village folks and Gaffur. Raj...more
Parikhit
R. K. Narayan’s stories have done it again and this time it is ‘The Guide’. Magnificent! Narayan is perfectionism achieved in writing. With the presentation simple, a narration soul-stirring and a ringing humour a reader finds herself transported to the town of Malgudi witnessing the daily affairs, fictitious yet real.

Raju humbly began as a dishonest tourist guide, morphed into a guide to success for his ladylove and settled for a spiritual guide to a group of credulous villagers. His transition...more
Mizah
I didn't really put much thought into what kind of story this would be, but now that I have completed it, let me just say it went beyond my expectations. R. K. Narayan has a flair for storytelling.

I've been reading a lot of books which move back and forth in time, and 'The Guide' is one which does so brilliantly. The narration of the past is told in relevance to what is happening in the present, and written in a consistent manner too, making it easy for readers to follow.

I think the best thing a...more
Anuja
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sai Padma
Wonderfully interwoven human drama
Nandasiri Wanninayaka
I read “The Guide” by R. K. Narayan last year. It was as interesting as any other books by R. K. Narayan. The usual setting, the town of Malgudi is where the novel is based on. The protagonist, Raju is originally a tour guide and later becomes a manager of a dancer and then a hermit. The transformation of the character is excellently illustrated by the veteran novelist Narayan.

This is the only novel of Narayan that includes sex from the novels I have read by him. Railway Raju (his nickname) fall...more
Nayantara
The thing about R.K Narayan is that I don't think there is any Indian author out there who captures India:
1. So well
2. With such simplicity
3. With such profoundness.

The Guide starts off as a seemingly simple, straightforward story. But by the end you realise how truly profound the book is. This book is a must read for those who like to read about India and for Indians because I feel we really don't appreciate people like R.K Narayan enough!
Bipin
Jun 08, 2014 Bipin rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Everyone and especially those who want to read something, but don't know what to.
Recommended to Bipin by: My mother
It's a story of a person who tells his story to another person who thinks the former one was an insightful and enlightened being for no apparent reason. Explains the mindset of rural people who desperately want to believe in someone supernatural. The writer, Lt. Sri R. K. Narayan excellently portrays the course of events which creates a sage out of an ordinary person who goes through phases like innocent child, a vendor in a railway station to a successful guide, an incredible lover, an entrepre...more
Harshvardhan Arya
This book describes the real indian village boy's tendency! you are lost remembering the matching incidents having occured in your life and the character's!! The story ended with a very short suspense! But each turn in the life of 'Raju' is genuine and leads to a diiferent stage of life!

R. K. Naryan is the best author whom i have read ever!! great writing skills.. !!
Allie
I have many books by R.K. Narayan; 'The Guide' is my favourite. Its subtitle is 'A Novel of a Reluctant Holy Man', but it would be more fair to say that Raju is a surprised holy man. Taking refuge in a temple after being imprisoned, Raju is taken for a holy man and brought offerings of food. The tale of his rise from sinner to saint is one well worth reading.
Adam
An unusual story with complex characters. Some interesting narrator shifts gave it extra layers of intrigue, but ultimately I wasn't sure exactly what he was driving at.
Aaron
Very good and fascinating depiction of life in the post-colonial era. It is not a political book, but a book about interesting people and culture.
Deepti Pant
The Guide is delightfully funny, and yet extraordinarily serious at the same time. I simply loved the contrasting nature of its characters, who struck me as real as Tagore’s characters, as neither Raju, nor Rosie or Velan are entirely black or white, they all have a mysterious grey shade and are blended well to chalk out a wonderful story of trust and betrayal. Though, I was not very satisfied with the climax, as Narayan leaves it dangling, with just a hint of the future events. But, all in all,...more
Abhishek Rao
I read R.K. Narayan's Swami and Friends in school and had loved the stories revolving around schoolchildren in Narayan's quintessential Indian town of Malgudi. Having watched the film adaptation of another one of his Malgudi novels, The Guide, I wanted to see how and how well it was written. I shall say that I was not very impressed nor too disappointed with the book.

The story of The Guide can be summed up as the journey of Raju, a tour guide who falls in love with and starts managing the stage...more
Aamil Syed
At the beginning of the penguin classic version of 'The Guide', Michael Gorra has written a fine introduction to it wherein he makes arguments for and against R.K. Narayan's style and makes many interesting observations. However, one thing that stayed with me was his remark that Narayan is 'easy to read but hard to understand'.

I've read 'Swami and friends' and 'Malgudi Days' in parts, never having finished either and though I read them at different times in life: as a kid, as a teenager and as a...more
Yogesh
R.K. Narayan's Malgudi days was always close to me in the childhood, that unique melody which starts the serial which was telecasted on Doordarshan always makes me to go to the TV no matter where I am. Malgudi days has always moved me.

Before The Guide I have never read narayan's any novel, but i always wanted to read any one of his book. When I began reading The Guide I thought it's going to be about middle class family and there crisis or joys but Narayan surprised me by taking it into whole ot...more
Alesa
This was a delightful spoof on we human beings, and how self-important we think we are. I can certainly see why Narayan is considered to be the Chekhov of India, for his understanding of human nature. And I loved the way the narrator played with the reader, by showing us the main character's self-delusion, yet also having the main character understand this self-delusion and poke fun at it by viewing it from later in life.

So the story is of a small-town charlatan who bamboozles people into thinki...more
Drsweety
Jan 19, 2014 Drsweety rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: All
I prefer the book to the movie. Always.
The only two exceptions are Masoom (based on Man, Woman, Child) and Guide (Guide).

Raju Guide's life is a roller-coaster of lost dreams, broken promises, shunted relations.
His idyllic life twists with the entry of Rosie, the young, spurned wife of the much older archeologist Marco. Rosie grasps onto Raju's shoulder as she rejects her marriage for her only true love...Dance.
Alas, her passion for dance and Raju's obsession for her lead them into a downward s...more
Vijay
I have read 'Malgudi days' by R.K. Narayan before and I always liked his style of writing and his unique quality of putting most complex of emotions in simplest and concise manner .
Like his other works, Guide also jumps around Indian culture, beliefs, socioeconomic structure, and human nature, which is not particular to any country or group of people. I don't know how can he portray such arcane concepts of very varied and convoluted topic that Indian culture is, in such simple and appealing fa...more
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R. K. Narayan is among the best known and most widely read Indian novelists writing in English.

R.K. Narayan was born in Madras, South India, in 1906, and educated there and at Maharaja's College in Mysore. His first novel, Swami and Friends and its successor, The Bachelor of Arts, are both set in the enchanting fictional territory of Malgudi and are only two out of the twelve novels he based there...more
More about R.K. Narayan...
Malgudi Days Swami and Friends The Ramayana: A Shortened Modern Prose Version of the Indian Epic The English Teacher The Man-Eater of Malgudi

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